Author Dwight J. Friesen brings us a novel that allows the reader the chance to explore what a Christian walk and church community could look like through a networked kingdom lens. Our Western culture is often described by many, including Margaret Wheatley, as holding ideas of autonomy of the individual, the voluntary nature of community, a mechanical view of creation, life in society as a competitive struggle for existence, and belief in the inherent goodness of progress... to name just a few. BUT, if we hold to God's reconciling love, through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, then it could be described as an ecological view, in a sense. That would recognize the fundamental interdependence, even synchronization, of all facets of life. It sees that we are all embedded in one another and dependent on one another as part of the divinely created order. (Leonard Sweet)
This book by Friesen is an interesting compilation of various disciplines such as leadership, theology, network theory, biblical studies and science. He walks through five main sections he calls clusters and explores topics of connectivity, networking, leadership, the church body and connective practices. I found it spoke favourably to the structure and benefits of being a part of a larger denomination with access to community, regional and even global partnerships. It had much to do with linking multiple nods that could turn our attention to focus on similar things and turn singular identity into "We" identity. Friesen says, "God's mission is more than the salvation of individuals; it is also the formation of a people who participate with God in the reconciliation of all and the re-creation of the world."
There are many great metaphors to consider and great word picture illustrations as well. Friesen uses an example of "lighthouse Christianity" in comparison to "networked cities" that is particularly interesting to think about. I loved how it includes the calling and mission of diakonia in our churches, where the mission of life in God's networked Kingdom is to participate in the ending of suffering of all kinds. Kingdom connecters know that when one person suffers, we all suffer, and that to bless one has untold ripple effects. Friesen asks, what if I blessed, what if I sought reconciliation, what if I served? The connections we have are gifts to steward with wisdom, humility and openness.
Friesen explores interesting concepts of the parable of Google, Kenosis, Christ-Commons and more. There is a lot of great stuff to think about as big picture practices and it was an easy book to read and relate to. I really liked how he says Churches exist to connect people with God, one another and with creation. The local church is an expression of the reality of God's networked kingdom, which I am sure others like Block, Brueggemann and McKnight would agree. Drop me a line if you would like to borrow the book and read it fully for yourself, I would be happy to lend it out.
"Life begets life. Energy becomes energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."